BBTCA and Environmental Assessment Feedback – Compliance with Tripartite Agreement

This is the seventh in a series of comments CommunityAIR submitted on Wednesday, May 20, on the Proposed Environmental Assessment (EA) Study Design/Scope in what has been described by people with experience in such matters as a sham EA.

The PortsToronto consultant, AECOM, proposes to consider public comments in deciding the final study components that AECOM will use to serve PortsToronto’s purpose in conducting the sham EA.

CommunityAIR’s comments cover 11 subject areas, are extensive and pointed, and are best digested slowly. They are listed below and will be presented individually over the next few weeks.

CommunityAIR has long contended that the Bombardier Q400 is an aircraft prohibited at the Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA) because of the noise profile limitations published in the Tripartite Agreement. The Bombardier CSeries 100 jet that airport expansion proponents want to see at BBTCA is claimed to be as quiet as the Q400.

It defies common sense to believe that a jet with the same noise profile as a prohibited turboprop would comply with the Tripartite Agreement yet that’s what PortsToronto argues. Unrealistically for a non-profit, community-based organization, a judicial ruling on PortsToronto’s non-compliance with the Tripartite Agreement is prohibitively expensive as well as unclear if CommunityAIR as a non-signatory could have standing in a court review. Of course, PortsToronto says no.  As for the other two signatories, don’t hold your breath expecting Transport Canada or John Tory’s administration to ask for clarification.

Subject Areas

1.   Bias
2.   Public Interest and Policy
3.   Climate Change
4.   Flawed EA Design
5.   Runway End Safety Areas
6.   Permitted and Proposed Growth Scenarios
7.   Compliance with Tripartite Agreement
8.   Bird Hazard Zone
9.   Immense Existing Subsidies from City and Federal Government
10. Transportation
11. Emergency Response and Access

7. Compliance with Tripartite Agreement

Underlying this document is an assumption that the Q400 is compliant with the Tripartite Agreement, and that, if the CS100 is equivalently noisy, it will also comply.

However, Porter/PortsToronto have persistently ignored the following requirements of that Agreement:

  • Q400 is not a Dash‑8, or STOL, and is not permitted for commercial service

The Tripartite Agreement restricts the TPA’s use of the Airport to “general aviation and limited commercial STOL service operations”.

“General aviation” is defined[1] to consist of:

all civil aviation activities, other than a limited commercial STOL service, undertaken …. in the operation of civil, state and private (personal and business) aircraft; [and] the operation of … the de Havilland Dash‑8 aircraft.

Transport Canada confirms that the Q400 is not STOL.

Both the TPA[2] and Transport Canada[3] take the position that, as the Q400 is classified “aeronautically” as part of the Dash-8 family of aircraft, and is therefore a Dash-8 for the purposes of the Tripartite Agreement.

This is patently wrong:

When the Dash 8 was added to the Tripartite Agreement as a permitted aircraft (for “general aviation” purposes) in 1985, the only Dash 8 plane that could have been in the contemplation of the parties was the Series 100/200 – a 37 to 40passenger plane – about half the capacity, and about 60% of the weight of the Q400[4], which was developed in the 1990s, and has very different performance characteristics[5].

The understanding of the parties at the time as to what they considered to be a Dash-8 is determinative, in law.

The fact that the aircraft industry, and Transport Canada, consider the Q400 a derivative of the earlier Dash-8 models (and therefore within the family of Dash-8s) is strictly an administrative qualification and quite irrelevant to the correct interpretation of the Tripartite Agreement.

  • The prohibition on aircraft generating excessive noise

A February 2009 PowerPoint presentation by the TPA to a now‑defunct community advisory committee meeting admits that even the Q400 (technically the Q402, flown by Porter and Air Canada) offends the Tripartite Agreement’s definition of aircraft generating excessive noise on two of the three limits. Breach of any one prohibits the aircraft.

Here’s page 26 from that PowerPoint:

Tripartite Agreement Compliance

Even the Toronto Port Authority’s own study shows that noise from the Q400 [technically, Q402] violates the Tripartite Agreement.

It also should be remembered that even a small increase in decibels means a significant increase in noise, as decibels are measure on a logarithmic scale.

It is clear that to date, the TPA has failed its duty to the public to enforce that prohibition.

How can Porter and the TPA say the Q400 “meet the noise restrictions at the airport”?

They cannot – on the facts.

Instead, the TPA claims it can “trade‑off” one breach with another’s compliance, borrowing from one parameter that is not breached to address a breach of another.

The “trade‑off” concept does exist – but only to enable aircraft to meet the maximum noise levels fixed by the ICAO.

The concept of “trade‑off” does not appear in the Tripartite Agreement


[1] Paragraph 1 (d)

[2] Per Lisa Raitt, then CEO of the TPA in an e-mail to CommunityAIR on August 31, 2006:

Bombardier Aerospace Dash 8 family of turboprop regional airliners includes the 37 passenger Q100 and Q200, the 50 to 60 passenger Q300 and the 70 to 80 passenger stretched Q400. The Tripartite Agreement specifically allows for Dash-8 aircraft.

[3] Per Jodi Diamant Boustead, Acting Director, Aircraft Certification, Transport Canada, to CommunityAIR, on May 10, 2006:

The Bombardier DHC-8-400 aircraft is the latest derivative of the original DHC-8, which is specifically permitted to operate to the Toronto City Center Airport by the Tripartite Agreement. It is sometimes referred to as the Q400, for marketing purposes.

[4] Weight of the Series 100 operating empty 10,250kg (22,600lb); of the Series 400: 16,580kg (36,520lb): per

[5] Per wikipedia (readily verifiable through Bombardier, the manufacturer) the “Dash-8” has evolved:

  • Series 100: Original 37–40 passenger version that entered service in 1984.
  • Dash 8M-100 : Two aircraft for the Canadian Department of Transport.
  • Series 200: Series 100 airframe with more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PW123 engines for improved performance
  • Series 300: Stretched 3.4 m (11 ft) over the Series 100/200, a 50–56 passenger version that entered service in 1989.
  • Series 300A : Version of the Series 300 with increased payload.
  • Series 400: Stretched and improved 70–78 passenger version that entered service in 2000.

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